Davis v. McCollum, No. 15-5018 (10th Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
Johnny Ray Davis was convicted of first-degree murder, for which he received a life sentence. After his state-court challenges to his conviction and sentence failed, Davis filed a pro se federal habeas petition alleging that: (1) his life without parole sentence violated the Constitution due to a “new standard [that had] been set in the U.S. Supreme Court” invalidating sentencing schemes mandating life in prison without possibility of parole for juvenile offenders; (2) his counsel was ineffective at trial and on appeal; and (3) as “a juvenile offender, [his] sentence of life without parole” was unconstitutional. The district court concluded that the last two issues were time-barred and that the first issue lacked merit because the case Davis claimed created a new standard, "Miller v. Alabama," (132 S. Ct. 2455 (2012)), was inapposite. The court thus denied habeas relief and denied a COA. The Tenth Circuit affirmed: "while Miller certainly reiterated the relevance of youth at sentencing as a general matter, Davis’s argument at best relies on an extension of Miller’s logic. Two dispositive conclusions follow from that: (1) because this version of Davis’s argument does not assert the new right actually recognized in Miller, it suffers from the same timeliness flaw as his petition’s other contentions; and (2) because the state post-conviction trial court rejected this argument, [. . .]deference applies, and we cannot say declining to extend Miller was contrary to or an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law as determined by the Supreme Court."